Happy New Year! See, they said you’d never make it to 2009, and look at you now! 😉
But seriously, in my opinion, the beginning of the academic year and the beginning of the calendar year are two ideal times for serious introspection and reassessment of our academic performance and standing in the college admissions game. Now would be a great time to sit down with paper and pen, or screen and keyboard, and write down (type up) specific goals for the rest of the year. What’s the difference between dreams and goals? A goal is a written (typed) dream with a deadline. People who WRITE DOWN (TYPE UP) their goals are many, many times more likely to achieve them than those who simply THINK about them. Not sure why, but it doesn’t matter: just do it because it works. :-
Now since it’s January 1 (or thereabouts), why not call them New Year’s Resolutions? Please don’t be one of those killjoys who say that New Year’s Resolutions are a waste of time because they only last a few weeks or a month. First, they can last much longer than that if you take them seriously and establish HABITS, and second, what’s better, one month of good intentions and new routines, or no months?!
Obviously, our individual lists will be different depending on the weakest links in our college admissions chains. Some need to focus on schoolwork and getting better grades; some need to get into a regular regimen of vocab, math fact, and grammar review ; some need to beef up their commitment to taking practice standardized tests; some need to balance their physical activity (i.e., exercise) and diet with more sedentary activity (do you know the word sedentary? If not, add it to your flash cards! ;-)); some need to rethink and rework their application essays; some need to re-commit to important extracurricular pursuits; yada yada yada. A little bit of honest self-reflection and assessment (this is good practice for the “real world”) will go a LONG way!
Here are some general guidelines for making your New Year’s Resolutions, adapted from the Top Achievement website:
- Make sure the goal you are working for is something you really want, not just something that sounds good. Don’t waste your time with pretty-sounding goals, for example, I will study as long as it takes to get into Harvard, Yale, and Princeton. Now of course this SOUNDS good, and those are some fine schools, but are they the schools you really want to attend in heart of hearts? Maybe you’d much prefer to go to a school with a program well-suited to your particular talents, skills, and long-term goals. When setting goals it is very important to remember that your goals must be consistent with what you really want.
- A goal can not contradict any of your other goals. For example, if you plan to sleep ~8 hours a night, and if you’re in school another ~8 hours, you can’t set goals that require another 12 hours a day. Do the math, it just won’t add up!
- Develop goals in several areas: Performance in Classes; Standardized Test Preparation; College and Grad School Applications (for seniors and higher ed students); Sports, Extracurriculars, and Community Service; Diet and Exercise; Relaxation and Meditation. Making sure you hit these major areas of your life will ensure peak functioning mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
- Write your goal in the positive instead of the negative. “Work for what you want, not for what you want to leave behind. Part of the reason why we write down and examine our goals is to create a set of instructions for our subconscious mind to carry out. Your subconscious mind is a very efficient tool; it can not determine right from wrong and it does not judge. It’s only function is to carry out its instructions. The more positive instructions you give it, the more positive results you will get.Thinking positively in everyday life will also help in your growth as a human being. Don’t limit it to goal setting” (Top Achievement).
- Write your goal out in complete detail. Instead of writing “Better grades in math; higher scores on the ACT,” write “an 88 in math by the next marking period, and a 90 by the end of the year; 27 or better on each ACT test.” This will help immeasurably in adjustin your daily “to do” list.
- By all means, make sure your goal is high enough. Don’t let ultra-conservative college counselors steal your dreams. Shoot for the moon; if you miss, you’ll still land among the stars!
- This is the most important — write down (type up) your goals! Why? Because it works!
Regardless of what year of middle or high school you’re in, here are some ideas for you to consider as you reflect upon the fall of this academic year and set goals for yourself for the rest of the year. Take charge of your own destiny. Mom and dad, much as they’d like to ;-), CANNOT DO THIS FOR YOU! Take the bull by the horns, and write down your new intentions and specific goals, and then start out 2009 with a whole bunch of great new habits! Feel free to talk about this in a tutoring or class session, compare with your friends, and be the best college applicant you can be! Here are a few ideas adapted from the Oxford Learning website:
- I resolve to write down my homework and assignments and other daily “to do’s” in myagenda or planner
- I resolve to do my homework every night
- I resolve to make better use of free time during the school day
- I resolve to do my quiz- and test-studying well before the last minute
- I resolve to set aside 10 min every day to review vocab, math facts, and grammar rules in my virtual flash cards (see last blog)
- I resolve to put up my hand and ask questions in class when I don’t understand and to contribute actively when I do
- I resolve to take better notes and to read over my notes every night, even when I don’t have homework
- I resolve to ask for help when I need it (see http:/CollegePrepExpress.com ;-))
- I resolve to read more
- I resolve to eat foods that are more nutritious and better for my brain (high protein, low carb, and low fat) and to exercise DAILY
- I resolve to get more sleep
- I resolve to manage stress and anxiety with a regular practice of deep breathing and meditation
- I resolve to be an active learner
Good luck, Happy New Year, and Happy Goal Setting! Let us know how we can help!